A Truth Universally Acknowledged
With apologies to Jane Austen for the mangling of her words and meaning: ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a genealogist in possession of a date of death, should look for a will’.
A genealogist in the possession of a will can often discover next of kin, the state of relations between relatives and business associates, property holdings, and personal details that give an illuminating insight into the personal life of an ancestor.
With the bombing and subsequent fire in the Four Courts and the destruction of so much held in the then Public Records Office, we naturally assume that all 19th century testamentary records went up in smoke. Invariably when we see that a will has been made in the Calendar of Wills and Administrations we have to resign ourselves to the fact that we are never going to see it.
There are however a number of 19th century will registers that have survived. These were created by the district courts and contain copies of the original wills. The collection is by no means complete and there many gaps in the various districts. Cork is well covered but the registers for the Principal Registry (Dublin) nearly all perished.
Did you know?
Jane Austen’s will is short and mentions just three people, her ‘dearest sister’ Cassandra, her brother Henry and a Madame Bigeon. You can read more about it here: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/news/see-jane-austens-original-will/
By Helen Moss
By Caitlin Bain
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